• PAD: The Lived African American Experience

    Join us for our new 2024 series!

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    Meet our DEI Committee Chairman

    & Conference Organizer

    Hi, I’m Charles, a Dad of 4, Grandad of 2. I was a dialysis patient for 9 years until I got my kidney transplant in 2022. I had cold feet, leg cramps and pain for years and just thought it was part of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). I never heard of P.A.D. until I had a small sore on my foot that wouldn’t heal. My wife googled my symptoms and discovered CKD increases our risk for P.A.D. So, she asked my cardiologist to test for P.A.D. Sure enough, I had poor circulation in both legs. Doctors tried to open up my arteries several times. But I still lost two toes to amputation. I came close to losing my whole leg, but luckily through connections with The Way To My Heart, that didn’t happen. I decided to create the DEI Committee to start brainstorming new ways to raise awareness in the African American community about PAD as well as to help improve the understanding of our experience within the community of those who care for us. Our first big project is PAD: The Lived African American Experience video series, which will kick-off during Black History Month on National PAD Awareness Day, the third Saturday in February! I hope you will join us as a speaker or as a viewer. As Kym always says, "Let's save life & limb together!" ~ Charles Winters

  • PAD: The Lived African American Experience

    Behind The Series

    Addressing Healthcare Disparities

    The Way To My Heart organization is dedicated to addressing critical healthcare disparities, particularly in the context of peripheral artery disease (PAD). We are excited to present a groundbreaking 4-part series that will shed light on the Lived African American Experience with peripheral artery disease. This series aims to uncover the challenges faced by African Americans living with PAD and the underlying systemic issues contributing to the disproportionately high rates of leg amputations within this community.


    Statistics and Disparities

    Statistics reveal a concerning trend: African Americans are undergoing leg amputations due to PAD at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the amputation rate for African Americans with PAD is three times higher than that of white Americans. Additionally, studies have shown that African Americans are more likely to experience delayed diagnosis and suboptimal management of PAD, leading to severe complications and adverse outcomes. These disparities underscore the urgency of addressing the specific challenges faced by African Americans in the context of PAD.

    Raising The Voice of African Americans

    Our upcoming series holds immense significance as it provides a platform for African Americans living with PAD to share their experiences, thereby highlighting the gaps and deficiencies within our healthcare system. By amplifying their voices, we aim to spark crucial conversations, foster understanding, and drive tangible change in the approach to PAD diagnosis, treatment, and patient care within the African American community.

    Collaboration and Impact

    Through this series, The Way To My Heart has successfully rallied a diverse group of African Americans with PAD who are eager to share their stories, challenges, and triumphs. By collaborating with industry partners, we can collectively amplify the impact of this initiative, driving awareness, education, and advocacy for equitable and effective care for individuals affected by PAD. Collaborating on this initative will not only demonstrate your organization's dedication to addressing healthcare disparities but also position it to help spread awareness of and reshape the narrative surrounding PAD within the African American community.

    Join The Conversation

    The Way To My Heart organization firmly believes that by shedding light on the Lived African American Experience with peripheral artery disease, we can catalyze meaningful change and drive progress towards equitable, patient-centered care. We are confident that with your support, this series will serve as a catalyst for positive transformation, ultimately contributing to a healthcare landscape where all individuals, regardless of race or ethnicity, receive the attention and care they deserve. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this partnership further and explore how your organization can play a pivotal role in bringing this impactful series to fruition.

  • Save the Date

    Session I: February 17, 2024



    Opening Remarks

    Save My Piggies Co-Hosts: Emmy Award-Winning Journalist Kym McNicholas & Dr. John Phillips

    DEI Committee Chairman: Charles Winters

    A short welcome and explanation of the foundation for the Save My Piggies series, its purpose, and current focus on the African American Experience by Kym and John. Charles Winters, also a kidney transplant and PAD patient, will set-up today's three hour discussion, how to participate, and how this discussion will evolve over 2024.

    ABC's of PAD

    Presentation: Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Zola N'Dandu

    How to approach your patient PAD discussion as if they had Cancer.

    Patients share how their physicians have talked to them about PAD, both successful and unsuccessful approaches. They don't talk about the hardening of the arteries. They don't make a clear distinction between arteries and veins. They vaguely classify wounds as 'diabetic foot' and fail to discuss the circulation. This discussion also will include the lack of a specific PAD diagnosis for circulation issues. Some tell patients that your symptoms are 'just your sugar', 'diabetes', 'poor circulation.'

    The Black Amputation Epidemic

    Presentation: World Renowned PAD Analyst MARY YOST

    Facts and figures

    Why African American Patients have a predisposition to PAD?

    What evidence and studies say about the gaps in care.

    Fireside Chat: High Profile Personal Experience: TBD

    Details to Come.

    Understanding The African American Culture & Views on Healthcare

    We discuss the evolution of mistrust in healthcare. Patients share their experiences with PAD in their family and how it impacted their own journey. They also talk about why they hesitate to go to the doctor, get second opinions, and more. Some will share how they ended up with an amputation, how they trusted their doctor, and what they were told that led them to not question their leg removal.  

    How African Americans View Their Textbook PAD symptoms

    African Americans don't think they have a serious circulation issue until it reaches advanced stages because of how they view their textbook PAD symptoms. They discuss how many interpret cold feet, leg cramps, neuropathy, and more. The conversation will evolve into how they handle these symptoms, what triggers a visit to a healthcare clinic or emergency room, and why they settle for whatever treatment is offered despite a historical distrust of the healthcare system.

    The Black Foot Deception

    Presentation: Dr. Stacia Jones on the critical differences with a black foot.

    Patients discuss how their wounds were dismissed by physicians and the progression of their disease because of it.

    Gaps in PAD Care

    Patients discuss barriers to timely, effective life and limb-saving care. They include education, access, support. Some will talk about financial and transportation barriers. They'll discuss making choices between insurance and food. Lack of options and access to advanced limb-saving physicians in medical deserts surrounding the most vulnerable communities.

    Creating The Change We Want To See

    Let's whiteboard the key learnings and action items based on the day's discussion.

    Closing Keynote: 

    Juanita's Plea to African Americans: Don't Settle for Amputation!

    Patient Juanita, who recently released this video below on youtube after she said that reporters have refused to acknowledge her request to share her side of patient care for African Americans, has a message for otherse her who have been and maybe still are on deck for amputation: https://youtu.be/UH_NkgPheXU?si=WNGFJn7RmfhZRRVh.

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